Citizens of Sparsely Populated States Trust Their State Government More Than Those in States with Large Populations
Residents of less densely populated states tend to trust their state governments more than residents of more populous states do, according to a new Gallup Survey.
The Gallup numbers, collected from June to December of last year, focused on how people feel about their state governments only. They reveal “trust is generally higher in states in the upper Midwest and Plains states, and the northern Mountain region states,” according to Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones.
States in which 70% or more of the populations expressed a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in state governments include North Dakota (77%), Wyoming (76%), Utah (75%), South Dakota (74%), Nebraska (73%), Texas (72%) and Alaska (71%).
Contrast these numbers with more densely populated states: Illinois (28%), Rhode Island (40%), Pennsylvania (46%), California (49%) and Maryland (49%).
Jones noted that Illinois may be a bit of an outlier due to its history of corruption and scandal involving the Governor’s Office. Its last two governors, Democrat Rod Blagojevich and Republican George Ryan, wound up in prison for breaking the law while in office. Two other governors, Democrats Otto Kerner (1961-1968) and Dan Walker (1973-1977), also did time.
“In general, trust is lower in more populous states than in less populous states,” Jones wrote. “The 10 most populous states and 10 least populous states differ by 11 percentage points in state government trust, with the middle population states in between.”
The trust people have in their government might have something to do with how they’re doing financially, according to the findings. Five of the six states with the lowest unemployment rates in the nation have trust scores of 73% or greater, with Vermont the exception.
Jones added that the reason why government trust may be harder to come by in larger states is they “have larger economies and more citizens needing services, and often more diverse populations, so they may be more challenging to govern than smaller states.”
An outlier is Maine, which is the least densely populated state east of the Mississippi River. Only 40% of its residents have a great deal or fair amount of trust in their state government.
Overall, the 50-state average of trust in state government rests at 58%, according to Gallup.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
Illinois Residents Least Trusting of Their State Government (by Jeffrey Jones, Gallup)
Only 1 in 5 Americans Trust the Government to Do What Is Right (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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